Real Men Take Care of Their Children
Wed, Mar. 6th, 2013
I normally don't think very well of Dr. Rand Paul. But today he is a hero. Today he is my hero. Today he is the Dutch boy blocking the leak in the dike with his finger. Today he stands with the Spartans at Thermopylae. Today he is standing in the path of the tanks in Tiananmen Square.
Senator Paul is today holding an old-fashioned filibuster -- standing on the floor of the Senate, blocking all other business, to demand information of how the President of the United States is or isn't exceeding his authority in ordering the murder of American citizens with near-Cylon flying robots. He is standing on belief, standing on principle, standing for the Constitution of the United States of America.
I could kiss him. Mr. Smith has gone to Washington, and he stands athwart the steamroller of politics and says "NO!"
This is a day of miracles and wonder. Goddess bless Rand Paul.
Mon, Feb. 11th, 2013
06:28 pm - To Live and Die in L. Avenue
I woke up this morning from a dream within a dream -- I dreamed I woke up in the house a block east of here in which I spent my young boyhood, with a television going in the middle room where we didn't have one. I walked through the hallway to the living room, entered, and my mother was standing to my left.
"You're dead," I said.
Mother laughed. "You don't have to be rude about it."
And I awoke for real.
Oddly, I felt cheerful. That was Mom's humor exactly as it always had been. She's been gone over seven years now, and I don't even have a grave to visit.
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2013
07:29 pm - The Perfect Knight
I cried today.
There are not one, but two statues of him outside the current Busch Stadium -- which is appropriate as he played his entire career two Busch Stadiums ago.
I met Stan Musial by accident -- our paths crossed in a hallway. My jaw dropped when I recognized him, and I stammered. He was friendly and gracious. I was 45 years old, yet he jokingly called me "Kid", and I felt privileged for it. My hero, now gone to Valhalla, baseball's Most Perfect Knight.
"He didn't hit a homer in his last at-bat; he hit a single. He didn't hit in 56 straight games. He married his high school sweetheart and stayed married to her, never married a Marilyn Monroe. He didn't play with the sheer joy and style that goes alongside Willie Mays' name. None of those easy things are there to associate with Stan Musial. All Musial represents is more than two decades of sustained excellence and complete decency as a human being. -- Bob Costas
The kids at the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club never realized that they played on sacred ground, that they ran the same basepath that he and Babe Ruth ran.
"And, between the slugging and the greeting,
To the bank for a directors' meeting.
"Yet no one grudges success to Stan,
Good citizen and family man,
"Though I would love to have his job
One half tycoon, one half Ty Cobb.'' -- Ogden Nash
It's a truly wondrous thing when your childhood heroes turn out to be even better than you imagined they could be.
Sun, Dec. 16th, 2012
12:39 am - Strait-Jacket
This is another example of the Law of Conservation of Strange People.[TM]
I was not quite 8-1/2 when this was released, and when it showed up at our neighborhood movie house (the late, lamented Avalon in south St. Louis), my mother -- who had a thing for Joan Crawford -- couldn't get a sitter for me, and insisted I come along because she didn't want to miss it. I didn't want to go, since I had seen the poster outside as I walked by the theater. With all the sophistication that an eight-year-old can have, I thought it would be simply a Bad Movie.
She dragged me to it anyway -- I sat on the aisle and she sat next to me. At the first bloody axe murder, I said "This isn't good for people to watch, I'll be waiting for you outside," and jumped up and walked out.
For the next ten minutes or so, I stood at the box office, chatting with the ticket seller and the ushers, probably all teen-agers, who were bemused by this little movie critic who had left his mother inside. Then Mom came out, smiled sheepishly, and said "David, you were right." We walked home, and she said she wouldn't try to take me to this sort of movie again.
The big irony? Eleven-and-a half years later, I had discovered fandom, and was attending a convention in Kansas City at which the late Robert Bloch (or "RobertBlochauthorofPsycho" as he had come to be known to the general public by then) was a featured guest -- as a joke, I even got him to autograph the blood stains I had somehow unknowingly gotten on my shirt (I think I had accidentally scratched my side against a parked car or some such, as the seam was torn).
I had no idea he'd written this movie until just a short while ago.
I think he'd forgive me, given the circumstances.
Mon, Nov. 5th, 2012
05:29 am - A Libertarian's Lament
Okay, we know that John Kennedy beat Richard Nixon in 1960 due to Kennedy getting Illinois through the vote from the Cook County Morgue. (There were also accusations of vote fraud in Texas.) Nixon chose to swallow the defeat ostensibly in order for the U. S. to not look weak in the cold war. I suspect that loss combined with the 300,000 vote loss to Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, Sr. for Governor of California combined led to the "you won't have Dick Nixon to kick around any more" press debacle.
We know Nixon was a brooder. Those losses had to eat at him, especially as the Camelot Mythos grew. It's been recorded that Nixon normally went to bed at midnight and got up at five a.m. in the White House, so he was sleep-deficient, which probably made it worse. Were it not for the stolen election in 1960 and the spiral downward it caused, Watergate and its attendant crimes likely would never have happened.
Republicans, I've noticed, have never gotten over their anger at the losses Watergate caused in the 1976 election, even with the two Reagan electoral victories, and there's been a lot of behavioral projection. "The other side's *must* be doing it, so I'm going to do it first." Most of this projection appears (to me, from my own p.o.v. -- YMMV and all that) to be on the Conservative Statist side.
That there were purges of properly registered voters in Florida in 2000 is a fact, and it's a fact that there was a deliberate mob action to stop a fair recount. It's generally accepted now that Al Gore won the popular vote, but with Florida *given* to George W. Bush by a partisan Supreme Court, Mr. Gore had no further appeal.
This year has seen projection allegations of Democratic voter fraud used to justify Republican vote suppression efforts in key states, voting machines which act like Homer Simpson's, voter purges, sample ballots with the wrong election dates on them, previously unheard-of amounts of money spent by SuperPACs (again a gift from a partisan Supreme Court), allegations that a Democratic senator funneled money into the coffers of her weakest opponent during the Republican primary, Mitt Romney telling employers to tell their employees that if they don't vote for him their jobs will end, a murderous coal mine owner forcing employees to appear at a Romney rally on pain of firing if they didn't and having them lose a day off to make up that day's production, the debate commission's quadrennial shutting out of minor parties, and much more. When everything's over, this election will go down in history as one of the most crooked ever held.
Also on last New Year's Eve, President Obama signed unconstitutional legislation giving the federal government the authorization to arrest anyone in the world (including here in the United States) without formal booking and charging, and hold them incommunicado indefinitely with not even access to lawyers and no right of habeas corpus. The Bill of Rights is casually ignored ("Just a Goddamned piece of paper." -- George W. Bush), with the Third Amendment the only one not violated by what libertarian s.f. writer L. Neil Smith calls "the Mommy and Daddy wings of the combined Boot On Your Neck Party."
I'm voting for the Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and James P. Gray, but have no illusions about what it means to do so. It's just a small voicing of a wish for a better nation that what this country has been forced into.
Fri, Nov. 2nd, 2012
06:03 pm - The Problem of Pain: Rachel Weeps
It took me a while to be able to write about this. On several news programs last night, each with only part of the horror, it was said that a young woman from Staten Island, struggling in the storm surge of Hurricane Sandy, was trying to save herself and her two children, but they were torn from her arms into the water.
Yesterday, searchers found the bodies of the children, ages two and four.
I cannot begin to comprehend the grief and guilt that woman must be feeling. It impels one to scream at the sky, yelling "What did I do that was so evil that You had to do this to my children? What did I do that was so evil that You had to do this to me? What did I do, You Gormless Bastard? What? WHAT?!?"
Calling it a "severe mercy" as C. S. Lewis and Sheldon Vanauken did isn't enough for me. In a universe in which the laws of physics provide for chemistry, biology, and the evolution of life which is self-aware, which can think intelligently and feel emotionally, the need to anthropomorphize an external Deity and displace the blame onto It is overwhelming.
There is no good side to this, despite what religious people might say. Gods and Goddesses are the internal creations of men and women, not the other way around. How can we deal with such tragedy as mortal men and women? What is the solution to the problem of pain?
I don't think there is one. I have never been able to put aside the things which cause me this kind of pain and grief, and I don't think I ever will. In turn, my contempt increases for those with so little empathy for their brothers and sisters they cannot comprehend their pain, even more so for those who deliberately cause it.
In the meantime, Rachel continues to weep for her lost children, a weeping which will not stop.
Fri, Oct. 5th, 2012
08:56 pm - "Butterflies in the sky...."
Long before the creation of Geordi LaForge, LeVar Burton was the host of the PBS program Reading Rainbow, which encourages children to read in a playful, library setting.
Mr. Burton is very angry about Mr. Romney's plan to gut PBS, and is speaking out in public, in anger, repeatedly.
If past history is a guide, Mr. Burton will get the support of many of his colleagues, even those not themselves connected with PBS as he was. Some with whom he's worked for many years.
I think Mitt Romney has made an enemy out of the United Federation of Planets.
Thu, Sep. 13th, 2012
10:06 am - Neil Armstrong's Funeral
Tue, Sep. 11th, 2012
04:06 pm - "The Deafness Before the Storm"
The writer claims to have seen previously classified briefing papers beyond those already released which indicate that the Bush Administration had multiple increasingly urgent warnings that an attack was immanent from U. S. intelligence agencies, specifically the CIA, although there may have been input from others as well.
It is still possible to impeach and try a federal official, even after he or she has left office. We have a responsibility to those who were wounded and killed to punish all of those responsible for their injuries.
Sat, Sep. 8th, 2012
10:21 pm - Star Trek's 46th
Fri, Sep. 7th, 2012
01:49 pm - The Tragic Tale of Bill Mantlo
The double-horror of both what a hit-and-run accident did in traumatic brain injury to prolific comic book writer and lawyer Bill Mantlo and what CIGNA insurance has done to him, yet without breaking the law or denying an technically ethical obligation -- they didn't take the Physician's Oath.
What's worse is that the Affordable Health Care Act (the mis-named "Obamacare") wouldn't have made any difference.
At one point, while temporarily lucid, Mr. Mantlo asked his children to kill him.
If the name of Wendell Potter, who is quoted extensively in the latter part of the article, sounds familiar, it's because he's the CIGNA public relations official who left the company to become an advocate for patients to insurance companies and is also a consultant for MS-NBC on these matters. He's appeared several times on COUNTDOWN with Keith Olbermann, The Rachel Maddow Show, and THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O'Donnell.
Those of you who are local to St. Louis may consider that after the BJC Health System, owner of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, canceled their own Partners HMO, they farmed out their employee health insurance to CIGNA. Deity help any BJC employee who has a long-term traumatic brain injury. It would appear that even their own hospital will abandon them in the end, based on who they chose for employee health insurance.
Wed, Sep. 5th, 2012
Dear Ms Muhammad:
I am pleased to see such an array of prosthetic appliances coming to the market.
Back in 1965 in the Robert A. Heinlein novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, the lead character Manual Garcia O'Kelly Smith had at least ten different arms for different purposes, including a "social arm" which looked like a normal human arm without the specialized capabilities his other varied arms gave him.
The term "cyborg" was coined in 1960 in an article by Manfred Clynes and the late Dr. Nathan S. Kline. In 1972 Martin Caidin wrote about triple-amputee Steve Austin, who received three human-appearing and superhuman-functioning limbs in Cyborg, his first of four novels about his version of the character, who was adapted for television (with diverging alterations) as The Six Million Dollar Man, with a separate series of spin-off novels by other writers based on the television version of the character.
To see these things begin to happen for real in my lifetime after reading these books and seeing that television programme as a teen is utterly marvelous. I'm only sorry that Misters Heinlein and Caidin didn't live long enough to see their concepts (literally) come to life, although actor Lee Majors is still here to see the reality which has come of what he portrayed.
Of course, the late Dr. Christopher "Kit" Pedler showed us what might happen if the concept were taken too far, with Doctor Who's Cybermen, as did the writers of Star Trek: The Next Generation with the Borg.
Next year in Luna City,
Fri, Aug. 24th, 2012
10:50 am - Threats against Mr. Todd Akin
Last night's news said that threats to rape Congressman Todd Akin's family and staff were made by telephone and over the Net. As distasteful as his ignorance of human biology is, that is absolutely NOT the way to respond. The Capitol Police are working with, I forget, either the Secret Service or the FBI in investigating the threats.
This is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong! I hope that they find and arrest the person or people who made these terroristic threats. It is of no help or gain to those of us who believe in reproductive choice for this to have occurred, and having been threatened myself, I have every sympathy for Mr. Akin's family and staff.
Tue, Aug. 21st, 2012
09:02 pm - Another Day to Remember
Yesterday, I wrote of Ryan's first day at college. This is one of the rare, special occasions where a person can have two first days: Kevin had his first day of college today.
Kevin has a learning disability. I've written of it before, no need to go into details again. It's just that he won individual awards in high school (also written of here) and got good grades every year. He's always been the darling of his teachers for his continually helpful attitude and willingness to make his schools better places. He has a large heart and cares about others so much that the emotion can overcome his disability and cause him to cry.
Kevin doesn't know what his major will be, but he has chosen courses which will be useful in any major and which will also challenge him. Ironically, two of his courses are the same as Ryan's choices, except that Ryan has shorter class sessions and meets three times a week, while Kevin has longer class sessions and meets two days a week.
What I have trouble is with the idea that I have two adult sons in college. When did this happen? I'm not this old...am I?
Beard fully gray? Check. The beginnings of "old peoples' ailments"? Check. Oh, my Deities!
But looking at Kevin and Ryan makes those minuscule in comparison. What is important is the beginning of their adult lives.
I didn't make the mistakes of my parents, having learned from them. I made a cornucopia of my own instead. I have no doubt Ryan and Kevin won't make mine, but will make their own. I will always love and respect them regardless.
My sons are exceptional young men. They will be exceptional independent adults. Life is good.
I love my sons. Excelsior!